Last year, two CTI volunteers, Larry Rauenhorst and myself, traveled to Haiti carrying two pieces of processing equipment: a shredder designed by CTI’s staff engineer and the latest iteration of a simple shredder that I had been working trying to perfect for several years. Larry and I set out to test and determine the reliability and usefulness of the equipment.
Through the years, CTI has partnered with Haitian organizations and people in an effort to help put Haitians to work processing an underutilized resource, a strange tropical fruit call breadfruit. The fruit grows on trees, mostly along the coast, are picked green (unripe), usually cut up, cooked and eaten like a vegetable. Much of the fruit simply rots and is wasted. CTI volunteers were asked if we could find ways of preserving breadfruit by shredding, drying and grinding breadfruit into shelf-stable flour, which could be made into useful products and help Haiti with better food security. Hand shredding of breadfruit is tedious, so enter myself and Larry, with our new shredders set to be tested.
We were hosted by the Agriculture College of the University of the Nouvelle GrandAnse in Jeremie, Haiti. While only about 100 miles from Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, reaching Jeremie took eight and a half hours over steep mountainous roads. The college provided us with three paid students, and together, we set out to process at least 2,000 pounds of breadfruit in fewer than ten work days.
Larry and I trained the students on processing the fruit to a stable, dry product. This entailed:
- Cleaning the fruit and equipment river water that’s been disinfected
- Each lot of ten fruit were weighed, peeled cored, shredded, and laid out to try (unusable peel and core were also weighed)
- Shed samples were measured for thickness and length
The student teams processed 2,023 lbs of fresh breadfruit in eight days averaging 252.9 lbs per day. The amount of flour made from the ton of fresh breadfruit was 394 lbs.
How did the two shredders fare in the tests? The Mounir design worked wonderfully well and did almost all of the shredding. Red-faced Dave had to admit it was time to go back to the drawing board, make some important changes and perhaps shred another day.
What about the students? Did they continue to do what they had learned to do last year. You Betcha! The August issue of the college newsletter reports that two of the three students we worked with, Marie and Pierre, chose breadfruit processing as their required internship. During this summer alone they processed 215 dozen breadfruit or 6,450 lbs of fresh breadfruit. They now have three contracts with orphanages and schools in Port-au-Prince. They sell breadfruit flour for $2.00 (US) per 12 ounce bag plus shipping and handling. Package includes instructions, recipes and the story of how the breadfruit flour project developed.
Red face Dave, like Marie and Pierre, has learned from his experiences of last year. Previously I depended on others to test my shredder. For whatever reason I was not told of all the things that were wrong with it. I needed to discover those things myself. Stop in to CTI and see the Elton shredder I am now proud of.
David has been a volunteer with CTI for many years, focusing on developing breadfruit shredding technologies.